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Topics - Triple Zero

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Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / individualism, freedom and the Machine
« on: December 21, 2006, 08:33:16 pm »
ok, i just had a very interesting discussion with my girlfriend. i explained her about LHX's origin of the lie -- and even though i still don't know why that concept is so significant or what he was aiming for, it is one hell of a starter for interesting discussions ;-)

she (an astronomy student) is currently following an extra-curricular course about greek mythology (and no, Eris isn't covered in it, they can hardly treat all greek mythology in 12 weeks time ;-) ).

she told me about how the concept of human individuality is only something of the past few centuries, and i think this is a very important concept that deserves to be gone deeper into. she told me that she learned that in ancient Greece people were what other people thought of them, and no more than that. and only in the Renaissance people started actually thinking about themselves, attributing paintings and art to themselves "I made that".
and this is were it gets back to the us/them idea. people get more and more individualistic over time, but this is a self-perpetuating circle. the individualism is bound to make people do things other people won't like, which is when the other people group the one people into groups that roughly do the same thing they don't like, and they distance themselves from them, but those others want to be individualistic so they distance themselves from their peers, and so you get all kinds of scenes and groups splintering until we're all individuals.

maybe this is freedom, but we're all in here together and if we care only about ourselves, we can't properly control/steer this Machine/Wheel that we're all part of and it gets out of control.

there you have it, another solution as another paradox.

freedom is slavery

Or Kill Me / democracy in ancient athens
« on: May 14, 2006, 03:30:36 pm »
something i wanted to post for a long time on this board, as you probably know i'm not very good with history/politics, but this i learned from a friend of mine (who studies history)

i think it's rather interesting, it seems we have gotten "democracy" quite wrong over the ages?

in ancient athens, democracy worked as follows. every year 500 people were randomly selected to go into the senate (this was called "the lot", think of the word "lottery", also meaning "fate"). it was these 500 people that got to vote, majority-rule style.
this senate-job was a prestigious position and (i think) also fully paid for a year. but there was no way to control who would be "elected by the lot". (women and foreigners were excluded from the lottery btw).

i think this randomness is the most important part of why the ancient athens system worked soo well, and not the majority-vote part. i think that when "they" chose athens as a model for politics, they misunderstood that and instead took the majority-vote bit as the most important part.

this random lottery prevents in a number of ways, the difficulties and dirty tricks that are played with current day democracy. if only a random selection of the population actually gets to vote and decide, there is a lot less possibility for populism and lobbying.

as we know, complex systems tend to "evolve" or "transform" to increasingly high er levels of organisation. it is exactly this tendency of complex systems (which is almost a law of reality) that is causing the problems with democracy. there are other structures (corporations, political lobbies, etc) that are (by their very nature) trying to "outgame" the system. this lifts the focus (or level of organisation) from "the people" to these higher-level structures.

by adding a certain amount of "noise" or randomness to the system, one prevents the system from evolving to a higher level of organisation. this is because every such higher level will be brittle and based on outgaming (in a certain way) the rules of the system, and is therefore easily smashed by the noise before it can fully grow to a stable organisational layer and ensure its continued existance in the complex system.

three more remarks:

- there was another element of "forced disorder" in the ancient athens democratic system: the city-state of Athens was divided in three parts: land (farms etc), sea (harbour/fishing etc) and the city. these three parts were again subdivided into 10 smaller neighbourhoods, for a total of 30. every year (i think), all the neighbourhoods were joined together in groups of three (one land, one city and one sea), functioning as some kind of representative mini province kind of thing (they probably had a word for it in Athens, but i don't know it). the disorderly factor in this scheme is that these "provinces" where chosen (or randomly selected, i dont know) in such a way that the three parts it consisted of did not share a common border. thereby making it harder to form cartels, political pressure-groups or other higher-level structures.

- discussing this with some other guy, he already mentioned that if some kind of political organisation forms outside this democratic system and attains a reasonable amount of popularity among the people, chances are good that multiple members of this political party will be lotted among the 500. this will again result in "outgaming the system", and the political party would be able to excert more political pressure or power than the pure "one man one vote" strategy that was originally intended. in other words, the system is not perfect, but i think it does quite well anyhow.

- according to what my friend told me, Socrates did not like this system, arguing that the "lot" (randomness) is not intelligent and therefore inferior to make these decisions (a lame argument imo, but how was Socrates supposed to know, without Computer Science, that randomness is in fact more intelligent than one may presuppose, given that it's applied in large numbers .. heh Monte Carlo wasn't even built by then ;) ). on the other hand, Aristotle argued in favour of this system, for kind of the same reasons as i list above (mostly that the "lot" prevents outgaming).

knowing this only from hearsay i probably made some mistakes or wrong assumptions, so i present you these wikipedia links [which i haven't read yet, but will scan through in a moment]:

how the athenian democracy works according to wikipedia:
Sortition is an article about the random selection representative whatnot:
(the sortition article is very interesting IMO, but perhaps that's just the contrast with the rather boring history story that "Athenian Democracy" is on wikipedia)

i suppose Cain has one thing or other to correct about this text, him being the politics junky immersed in greek history ;-)

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